Mail: Real Estate Assistance!
Deb White
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Deb White

If you're thinking about putting your house on the market, you may consider posting a FSBO sign in the front yard. Not so fast. This could be a risky move. While some sellers are able to sell their home without a real estate agent's expertise, most FSBOs learn the hard the way that selling a home is no walk in the park.

As a matter of fact, research shows that 88% of FSBOs do not sell, and these sellers end up listing with a real estate agent in the long run. To top it off, sellers who work with a real estate professional generally make 6% more on the sale of their home, even after they pay the realtor's commissions.

But why does FSBO generally fail? Selling your own home takes tons of research, hard work and time. FSBO sellers are faced with an avalanche of paperwork and a maze of confusing laws and rules. They have to do to tons of homework in an attempt to understand the ins and outs of the real estate industry. Not to mention they have fewer marketing opportunities, and many buyers simply do not want to deal with FSBOs.

Those lucky few sellers who successfully sell their own home are usually practiced home sellers who have plenty of real estate expertise and loads of free time. If this doesn't sound like you, you'll probably want to work with an experienced realtor.

Here are a few more reasons why you should avoid FSBO:

FSBOs can't list in the MLS. If you choose to go the FSBO route, you won't be able to list your home in the multiple listing service (MLS). Only licensed real estate brokers and agents can list homes on the MLS. So what's so great about the MLS? The MLS is the primary way that real estate is bought and sold in the U.S. In fact, more than 90% of homes sold in the U.S. are sold through an MLS listing. If you choose to do FSBO, not only will you be locked out of the MLS, but you also won't be able to advertise on some of the most highly trafficked real estate websites, including The best you can do is put a FSBO sign in your yard, run an ad in the newspaper and advertise on smaller websites with less traffic. In the end, a FSBO home does not receive a fraction of the exposure that a home listed by an agent receives.

FSBO homes are overpriced. Without the know-how of a real estate agent, most FSBO sellers don't know how to look at comparables in their neighborhood and price their home accordingly. That's why most FSBOs are generally overpriced for their market. These steep listing prices drive off potential buyers.

On the other hand, if you work with a real estate agent, he or she can help you assess the market conditions, evaluate comparable home sales and make sure the price is right. Plus, a Realtor can tell you how you can improve the curb appeal and bump up the desirability of your home so you can earn that higher listing price.

Many buyer agents won't show FSBO homes. A buyer's agent typically receives a percentage of the commission that the seller pays their listing agent. However, if you choose not to work with a listing agent, you're not paying that commission. Therefore, the buyer's agent is not guaranteed to be compensated for their hard work if their client buys a FSBO home. Even if a FSBO seller offers to pay the buyer agent's commission, most agents will not want to work with FSBOs. They assume that FSBO sellers don't know what they're doing-and they're usually right.

FSBOs often have legal troubles. Real estate transactions are chock-full of complicated legal agreements and contracts. If you don't know what you're doing, you could quickly find yourself in a legal bind. A purchase agreement can be 10 pages or longer, and that does not include the disclosures. One tiny error or a single missing form could cost you thousands of dollars or even land you in court. Some FSBOs end up in lawsuits simply because they didn't know what they were doing. A real estate agent is well-versed in the legal ins and outs of real estate transactions. He or she can handle all of this confusing paperwork for you and make sure all the information is absolutely accurate.

FSBOs have to deal with buyers directly. If you try to sell by owner, you'll have to deal with all the phone calls and emails from potential buyers first-hand. Many buyers are uncomfortable looking at a home when the seller is present.

However, if you work with an agent, he or she acts as a buffer. Your realtor can filter out the casual home-shoppers and make sure that only serious buyers are coming to look at your property. This will save you loads of time and headaches.